The impact of concussions on college and professional athletes has been a hot topic around Ohio State’s campus after the recent visit of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered evidence of lasting damage in football players’ brains from multiple concussions.
The conversation usually begins in the professional ranks, but concerns about varsity collegiate athletes have begun trickling down. Yet the impact of these collision-related injuries on recreational athletes is often overlooked.
Jarrode Davis, the competitive sports coordinator at the university, said OSU is prepared to treat students who suffer concussions while participating in club and intramural sports on the field and in the classroom.
Davis said that research conducted over the past year by OSU determined that 11 out of the 62 club sports are labeled as “high risk” for concussions. The list included men’s and women’s ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby and soccer.
“We have hired athletic trainers from the Wexner Medical Center to be at all of their home games that are within the vicinity of the city,” Davis said. “In the past that’s been a cost that (club teams) had to endure; now we are taking on that cost for those 11 clubs because of the research we have been able to put forth.”
Although OSU does not bring in athletic trainers from the Wexner Medical Center for intramural games, the recreational sports staff is still prepared to deal with concussions.
“On the intramural side, we have enacted some concussion protocols and have trained our staff to recognize the symptoms,” Davis said.
If an athlete were to suffer an apparent head injury during a game, a staff member on site with a first-aid kit would provide the injured athlete with a card that displays the symptoms of a concussion, allowing the player to decide if he or she wants to visit the emergency room to be further evaluated.
“If they can’t remember their name, if they can’t remember the score, if they can’t (remember) the time of when the game started, any signs like that, the intramural supervisor has the full authority to remove that individual from the game,” Davis said.
Ethan Adams, a third-year in geographic information sciences, said he suffered a concussion while playing flag football the night before a physics exam.
“The refs saw what happened but couldn’t tell I had a concussion,” Adams said.
Adams left the game and was further evaluated at Riverside Methodist Hospital, where it was determined he sustained a concussion.
Scott Lissner, the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said a severe concussion that permanently limits a life activity, such as attention, memory, processing speed or thinking, would be classified as a disability. As a result, his office would contact the professors of students with these types of injuries in order to make sure proper accommodations are given in the classroom.
Lissner also said suffering a minor concussion would not qualify as a disability, and one would need proper documentation from a doctor in order to skip class or an exam.
“You would document that like you would the flu, twisting your ankle or anything else,” Lissner said.
That exemption can also happen retroactively, as was the case with Adams’ physics exam the day after his injury.
“They had me take it, but I was able to drop the exam after,” Adams said. “I needed a doctor note.”